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home : features : health and wellness April 29, 2016

6/14/2013 6:00:00 AM
Emotions can have influence - a bad one - on eating habits

Eunice Mesick
Health Columnist

There are many reasons why people eat - and many of them have nothing to do with nourishing our bodies.

We may find our selves eating because we are happy, sad, bored, tired, or angry. Remember: Whatever emotion we are experiencing, food usually won't improve or change our situation. Usually, after the fact, we are depressed because we are unhappy with ourselves for displaying a lack of self-control.

Let's talk about anger.

Anger is a painful emotion that may cause an individual to overeat. If you tend to overeat when you're angry, you may be placing unrealistic expectations on yourself or on others. You may be determining your self-worth based on high standards of performance or placing those standards on another person.

When one does not meet these standards, you become angry with yourself or others. Anger is an emotion that can cause a person to want to express his/her feelings by yelling, screaming or throwing things. This may release some tension, but it may also cause people to fear us. Since expressing anger in this manner is not acceptable, some people tend to eat in response to anger.

Eating can provide a distraction and help to calm you down. However, this response can damage your health and your weight. To avoid eating due to anger, you need to address the problem of how you determine your self-worth or the value of others. Do you look for approval from people who don't appreciate your work? If you do, spend time with people who appreciate you. Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and others.

There's no need to be perfect. Do your best, and recognize your efforts and the progress you've made.

Exercise is one great way to help us deal with our emotions.

You may be thinking, "I avoid exercising because it increases my appetite." According to an article from the "International Journal of Obesity Related Medical Disorders," exercise doesn't always increase the appetite. Nor does your body automatically crave more food because you burned extra calories.

The reality is you may feel you deserve to eat a treat for the hard work you put into exercising (eating because we are happy). Be careful with this kind of attitude. If you eat to reward yourself for working out, you may consume more calories than you actually burned. Also, in this situation you were using the exercise to help with anger. You may find this making you angry all over again.

So the next time you have an opportunity to exercise, don't pass it up because you think it will make you want to eat more. Go ahead and take the opportunity to burn extra calories and to help alleviate whatever stressful situation you may be dealing with.

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